6 December 2022

Work? A reflection with Claudio Mattia Serafin

We return to address the topic of work that is the natural corollary of which today is the performance of work.

How, where, and when one works. There is no doubt that at the core of work is the culture of commitment and civic achievement, also incorporated in our Constitution and in all institutional thinking, not only secular but also religious.
If anything, the problem lies in the fact that there is a legitimate vacuum as to the goals of the work being done, as well as how it is performed. The postmodern framework and intellectual hyper-productivity. The latter is completely deprived of any theoretical, cultural, or historical stance which certainly does not improve the picture and negatively affects workers’ or employees’ welfare.

Historically, caused by changes guided by the collective unconsciousness over the past two decades (the terrorist, economic, migratory, pandemic, and most recently war and environmental crises, respectively), the ruling and political classes have felt the need to change the framework of work or professions within the underlying economic and social fabric by steering debates and education in the direction of accountability, technological connectedness, sustainability, and inclusion. Meanwhile, national and European institutional communication signaled the need for change and has quickly adapted. The values of general Governance have changed and are now centered around the notions of digitization, innovation, ecological transition, social inclusion, and finally the reduction of territorial and generational gaps.

Regarding the notion of innovation, during the emergency phase, remote working became an inescapable tool to prevent the public-private machine from grinding to a halt and attracted the attention of analysts and scholars of labor culture.

Now that we have moved beyond this framework into a broader dimension of emergency. Unfortunately, severe factors continue to persist, including the war and energy crisis among others. Remote work has a potential pool of as many as eight million people, a statistic that is steadily increasing, and companies continue to seek how to reduce space and cut energy costs. During the emergency phase, we adopted the culture of remote working which now has become part of long-term goals and plans.

Firstly, a company’s efficiency goes hand-in-hand with employees’ well-being and quality of life, particularly for young workers who are unwilling to back down following this achievement. Both public and private companies have downsized their physical spaces.

Critical issues still exist:
• Employees must have a space outside the home for work purposes. Employees should make use of a designated space, which can be precisely their home, the hub etc.
• We must overcome the tendency of stretched working days and maintain working hours. This was a result of the mistakes made during the pandemic and is referred to as the so-called “mailbombing”.
• A large number of resignations – meaning that there is a tendency of employees to resign en masse from workplaces – and the phenomenon of so-called “quiet quitting.”

In conclusion, we can say that ‘work’ has timeless factors which certainly have not changed their identity.

To provide you with specific examples; a healthy relationship with the environment is necessary but not sufficient. It is even dangerous when developed to excesses. Nature is life, and so too is finitude when it relates to humans. An individual might interpret such a gnoseological and communicative wall as an impending synonym for the end, or death.

Reducing the gaps is also presented as an urgent necessity, but in fact, it has very ancient roots and was one of the factors that triggered the indignation of many intellectuals. We can think of Fourier’s theories on the rational reorganization of society, later developed by Dostoevsky in “Memoirs from the Underground” (good Italian edition by Einaudi) specifically in the first section, outlining a social monologue critiquing any kind of attitudinal contrast. The existence of this serious disease produces abnormal results, including an incessant “civilized” life (ephemeral and improvised) on the surface and pushes cultural and ontological thinking into the so-called underground on the contrary. Cormac McCarthy stated in “Sunset limited” (published in Italy by Einaudi) that truth is one and sound, whereas false truths are many and inevitably lead to other stages of an increasingly dark and dangerous path. One wonders if we should not frame the civil, professional, and family discourse according to a more classical track, that comprises a balance of work and having a relationship with reality, entertainment, and culture.

However, engaging in this debate or studying the phenomenon of work analytically it becomes apparent that we are very far from any solution. We are close to continuous crises and overwhelmed by elements of a veiled, narcissistic, and obscure collective unconsciousness, multiple cultural tendencies that are far from agreeable, and finally, approximation and contingency.


Written by Claudio Mattia Serafin, university Professor.